Why Jones vs Miocic should NOT be Booked

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The UFC’s Heavyweight division has felt like it has been in a perpetual state of limbo for years now, and with the departure of Francis Ngannou from the division and the arrival of Jon Jones to the fold, it seems to have ground to a halt. This article will lay out the main problems that the Heavyweight division is currently faced with and make a case as to why booking the fight between Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic is a terrible idea for the division’s overall health.

Jones vs Miocic is the Last Thing the Heavyweight Division Needs

Problem No 1 – Infrequent Title Fights

For years, the heavyweight belt has been plagued with issues regarding how long champions go without defending the title. The belt has not been defended more than once in a year since 2018. Since 2018, the championship has gone from Stipe Miocic regaining his title with a win over Daniel Cormier in August of 2019, and he would defend once more against Cormier a year later in August of 2020. It would be almost seven months before the belt was defended again when Francis Ngannou knocked out Miocic on March 27th, 2021. A further ten months would elapse until Ngannou would make his first belt defense with a win over Ciryl Gane in January 2022. Gane had previously won an Interim Championship in August of 2021. Contract disputes between Ngannou and the UFC would lengthen the time between title defenses further, and a full year passed to January 2023 with no defense of the belt. Ngannou would be stripped of the title this month and leave the organization.

 This would cause a returning Jon Jones to face off against Ciryl Gane in a bout for the vacant Heavyweight belt in March 2023. Jones won the fight and had been slated to fight Stipe Miocic in a legend vs. legend clash at UFC 295, yet after suffering a pec tear, he has been ruled out of competition for several months, and it could easily be closer to a year before we see him back in action once again. We are about to come into 2024, and if Jones recovers exceptionally quickly, we may see him back inside the octagon in the summer of 2024; this would be a 2-and-a-half-year period since the heavyweight belt was last defended. This is ultimately unacceptable and allows the division to stagnate, with fighters having little to work for if no end goal is attainable. 

Ultimately, while interim titles have been created for these exact scenarios despite belts being on the line, fights involving an interim title rarely, if ever, have the same kind of stakes as those for the undisputed. Indeed, there is always an asterisk by the name of an Interim Champ, and in the most respectful way possible, the belt signifies nothing more than a glorified clear number one contender status.

Problem No 2 – Older Talent Receiving Preferential Treatment at the Expense of the Next Wave

I want to preface this section by stating that Stipe Miocic and Jon Jones are two of the greatest fighters ever to grace the Octagon and will rightly go down in history as being so. They both have accomplished so much in this sport and should rightly benefit from certain privileges that younger fighters still need to earn. That being said, no matter the accomplishments and legacy of a particular fighter, that can’t be grounds to stall a division over them for years and years on end. 

Between them, Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic have loomed over the Heavyweight title picture for years now. Miocic is a former two-time champion who lost his title back in 2021; in the years following, there appeared to be a continuous triangle of sorts between himself, Jones, and Ngannou, with Jones and Ngannou speculated to engage in a fight with Miocic to challenge the winner. This stemmed from Jon Jones announcing that he was moving to heavyweight in 2020. Jones and Ngannou would be involved in talks for lengthy periods, with Jones finally making his debut in the division following the departure of Ngannou in January of 2023. With all of this going on, Miocic has been waiting in the wings to cash in on the title shot he believes he is owed after losing his belt back in 2021. With Jones likely out till mid-way through 2024 at the earliest, it is clear that the UFC needs to allow the division to progress, and trying to wait for this matchup between Jones and Miocic is undoubtedly different from how to go about it. 

Miocic has fought twice since 2020 and not since losing his belt in March 2021. If he and Jones were to square off in 2024, he would be almost 42. While Miocic deserved another shot at gold after losing his belt to Ngannou, everything has a limit. After nearly three years, the division should be moving on. There is no future in Miocic as champion, and even if he defeats Jones, it is more than likely that he will retire after the bout. Ultimately, while if he were somewhat in his prime, a matchup between the two would have been highly intriguing, at 42, Miocic is undoubtedly towards the end of his career and had more than enough time to make a stab at the title if he genuinely had wanted it. In waiting for this dream to match up with Jones, too much time has passed, and it is simply not what the crowd wants to see anymore. That ship has sailed. 

A similar situation has arisen for Jon Jones; he will be almost 37 years old if the two face off next summer, and all the points for Miocic apply here. He has made it clear that he intends to retire after the fact and has not looked as sharp in his last few fights as he had in his prime. He has had over three years to make this fight with either Miocic or Ngannou happen, and ultimately, nothing has occurred. The UFC can only wait so long before holding out for this ‘dream fight’ will cause more harm than good for the heavyweight division. 

While the CVs of both men are among the best in the business, and the pair are both MMA royalty, the current situation that the Heavyweight division is in because of them is unacceptable. 

Problem No. 3 – New Young and Talented Heavyweights are Suffering

Heavyweight was long thought to be one of the weakest divisions in the UFC, and there appeared to be a severe lack of up-and-coming talent coming through the ranks. However, this has changed in recent years, with the likes of Tom Aspinall and Sergei Pavlovich making their way up through the ranks. Both Aspinall and Pavlovich have established themselves as the best in the divisions and have done this with decisive and frequent performances. Aspinall has looked unstoppable during his time with the promotion and returned from the knee injury sustained against Curtis Blaydes shaper than ever; Pavlovich has shown that he is a one-person wrecking ball and enjoyed a hugely impressive six-fight win streak with each winning coming via vicious first-round knockout. While Miocic and Jones have had three fights since 2020, Aspinall and Pavlovich have a combined thirteen. They have been carrying the Heavyweight division and should be awarded for doing so. 

The stage should have been the grandest possible when the two matched up at UFC 295. The two most high-profile heavyweights had both been wrecking all their opponents in the division over the last few years. Both have the potential to be stars of the sport, and they consistently deliver hugely entertaining matchups. Tom Aspinall’s first-round victory should go down in history as one of the most emphatic wins in history. It should have been the start of the Englishman’s reign at the very top of the Heavyweight division, which would likely continue for a long time. But it wasn’t. The fight received nowhere near as much hype and press as it was worthy of because it was cobbled together at the last minute after Jon Jones was injured. Miocic ultimately refused to fight Pavlovich, the backup fighter. Instead of the MMA community being treated to a proper title fight with all the prestige that goes along with it between two of the best fighters on the planet, it became nothing more than a number-one contender fight. Now, with Aspinall the Interim Champion, it is unclear when he will ever be able to fight for the undisputed belt. 

The UFC seems insistent on matching up Jones and Miocic. Jones has yet to be stripped of his title despite seemingly having no intention of facing off against Aspinall, the rightful number-one contender. There has been speculation that Aspinall will be forced to defend the Interim belt while the UFC waits for the Jones and Miocic match to happen. This is ridiculous and unfair. The interim belt has only been defended twice before, and that was by Renan Barao back in 2013. Barao was later promoted to undisputed champion regardless. Traditionally, the interim belt was a highway to an immediate shot at the title in the Interim Champion’s next fight. Suppose Aspinall is forced to defend an interim belt while Jones fights Miocic in a pointless match with nothing at stake. In that case, it gives him all the responsibility and stakes of being a champion without ever having the actual benefits. 


If Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic are destined to fight in the UFC, the best way to go about it is to remove the title from the picture altogether. The title is different from the selling point of that fight, and ultimately, people will tune in because of the names of Miocic and Jones as opposed to what is on the line. The presence of a title does nothing to generate buzz for that fight, considering both will retire afterward, and ultimately only harms the rest of the division and continuing years of stagnation at heavyweight.

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